Australia 2010 Elections
Most experts are calling this the tightest race in Australian elections - with most pre-election and exit polls predicting results in the vicinity of 51% Labour vs 49% coalition (Liberals and Nationals).
As of writing this post (early evening of 21st August 2010), the votes are still being counted. Labour has the lead at 65 seats. They need 76 seats to win. I personally dont understand all the fancy terms of such and such percentage swing so will leave that to the experts. The ABC website is probably one of the best live coverage. You can read all the latest on their website.
You may also want to check out the AustralianPolitics website for info about the voting systems, particularly the primary votes and the two-party preferred votes.
What I think I will comment about is the key election issues. Rightly so much of that is centred on the economy. Other issues are the mining company 'super tax' (a 40% tax on mining companies proposed by Labour), climate change, a national broadband network, immigration, and separately asylum seekers. The immigration issue I understand. Australia currently receives 300,000 migrants a year. For a country whose total population is 22 Million, that is a sizeable chunk and enough to scare people when they hear predictions like the number of population will increase to 36 Million by 2050. It has implications on demand on resources, and for big cities like Sydney and Melbourne (where the majority of new migrants end up at - yours truly included!) this comes at a price. Housing prices, including rental, particularly in Sydney is probably one of the highest in the world today! Sure, the majority of migrants to Australia arrive under the skilled migration category, supposedly to fill shortage in the workforce. However, from my time there I realised that majority of these skilled migrants end up in jobs far below their skill level. A lot of that is due to the English language capability (or lack thereof), but a large part is also due to employers wanting to hire people with experience in Australia! [How does a new migrant gain experience in-country if they are not given that first job to begin with?]
By the way, an interesting point to note: Julia Gillard is herself a migrant to Australia. She was born in Wales, and moved to Australia at the age of 4.
Anyhow...I get somewhat sidetracked from the current election issue. Back to that. It is the last issue of asylum seekers that baffles me. Asylum seekers total a mere few thousands a year, and if and when they are admitted to the country, will hardly make a huge difference or add much pressure to the demand on resources of the country. Yet, the sensationalisation of the issue in the media over the years has made this become one of the top election issue. I certainly dont have an answer as to the best way to deal with asylum seekers, but does it really deserve all the negative publicity it gets? and the fear-mongering the media has induced into the population? and more importantly, is it really an issue of big impact to the Australian people?
It is ironic and a contradiction for me to observe the same compassionate Australians who are known for their volunteerism spirit, open-mindedness and friendly nature take such a strong uncompromising stand against these asylum seekers. It also reminds me of how powerful the media can be, and how much it can influence our perspectives.